I remember the first time I heard Paix (Peace). I’d like to tell you about it, what I saw, what I felt, when I first heard Catherine Ribeiro’s voice forever imprint upon such feelings of beauty and hope I thought I would start weeping.
I’d like to tell you about it, but 5th Amendment and all that.
Anyway, Catherine Ribeiro is this French chanteuse who sang all crazy-like back in the 1960s and 70s. I mean, she sang afterwards but it sounded more tame and normal.
She is known for her work with the bands 2 Bis and Alpes, both headed by her husband Patrice Moullet. A musician by trade, Moullet invented instruments that invoke feelings of celestial travel – with names like the cosmophone, I’d expect nothing less – and architected the uniquely bipolar folk sound of both bands.
Ribeiro’s voice carries the weight of an ice berg suddenly breaking off and colliding with the ocean, and the gravity of the last sunset before the end of the world. Her primordial screams will make you feel emotions you didn’t know existed.
Alright, so Paix is arguably Ribeiro’s most brilliant achievement (either this or the single cut she did with 2 Bis), and definitely her most well-known work. At just over 45 minutes long, the album is divided into four tracks.
The first two tracks are brilliant folk-rock numbers. “Roc Alpin” has enough of a progressive touch to hook the listener in within the first few chords, rarely changing rhythm throughout its three minutes but carefully modulating toward the end into a spacey foreshadowing of what the album becomes. “Jusqu’à ce que la force de t’aimer me manqué” is more baroque and displays the roayl power of Ribeiro’s voice.
The eponymous “Paix” is a slow burner that calls to mind Hawkwind’s more sinister space rock experiments and isn’t too bad.
It’s the final track, “Un jour… la mort”, that makes this music worth seeking out. A sprawling, cosmic folk odyssey in three parts, the song feels more like a quest you’ve undertaken. Deepspace echoes filter throughout a single theme while alien variations pop in unexpectedly, called to structure by Ribeiro’s siren’s song. Melody and cacophony compete between throbbing bass, delayed percussion and medieval woodwinds, until the lone reverberations of one of Moullet’s homemade instruments gives way into an ecstatically frenzied climax of sounds collapsing atop one another while Ribeiro gets loud loud LOUD.
For anyone who’s ever loved music ever, you owe it to yourself to give this a listen.